The Chonburi Buffalo Races
The event is typically scheduled right around the full moon. Buffalo are brought from farmers living all over the province who want to participate in this festival, which dates back to several centuries ago. Not only are the buffalo themselves ornately and colourfully decorated, but there are many dancers and performers as well that perform during the festival.
Before the races, the buffalo are paraded colourfully through the provincial capital's central quarters. The contestants are then led into the stadium with farmhands at the sides of the buffalo, throwing water on them to make sure they are kept cool. The buffalo are typically fed an egg and beer mixture which is purported to keep them performing at their peak.
The water buffalo are ridden bareback by the riders, and so it is not uncommon for them to consume a little beer as well in preparation and building courage prior to the race.
There are a number of other events that are held during the festival, and so while the Chonburi buffalo races may be the centre attraction, visitors to this festival can also enjoy the fancy dress contest for buffalo, a Miss Farmer Pageant and many other events as well, making this one of the most interesting festivals in Pattaya.
The buffalo fancy dress contest allows farmers to dress their respective buffalo in ornately detailed and collared clothing, silk and satin to determine who is best dressed. This contest also judges based on which is the healthiest of all the buffalo in the group. The Miss Farmer Pageant is a contest to determine a farm maiden, and it is essentially a beauty contest for anyone who would like to participate.
The Chonburi buffalo races originate back to the buffalo trade that once took place in Chonburi's history. Chonburi was once a trade centre for the eastern region of Thailand. Water buffalo were responsible for accompanying merchants on their travels, pulling cargo carts along the way. Once the trading days had come to an end, the merchants would indulge in fun and entertainment, arranging buffalo races, beauty contests and other events before they returned home for the season. This has now become an important annual tradition in the region. You could look at the Chonburi buffalo races as being akin to Spain's bullfighting events, which like this are a long standing tradition that has grown to be quite important among peoples of the region as one of the most traditional festivals in Thailand.
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